Tuesday, April 01, 2014

How to Remember a Father

How to remember a father seven years gone?  Buy windshield wiper blades.  Install them yourself.  Not the whole wiper set.  Just the blades.  If you can find them.  

It used to be that the auto parts stores stocked plenty of these.  Now, it's a row of wiper sets--the blades already installed in the snap-on wiper assembly.  Not that you need a wiper assembly.  They don't really wear out--certainly not as quickly as the rubber blades themselves, anyway.  But the retailers bank on your not knowing that, and stock their wiper department with a whole row of snap-ons, and one--count 'em, errr, it:  one--blade refill.  

I almost missed it.  As I looked and looked, up and down the row, I grew resigned to the idea that I would have to buy something I didn't need--and pay about five times more for it.  Then I spotted it:  the singular, solitary package, one size fits most, break-to-fit refills.  I grabbed it and took it to the counter, to measure, to make sure they'd work.  The clerk tried to trick me into believing they would not, but I caught him in his lie, purchased the blades, and went on my way.  He was counting on my being clueless.  How could he know I was savvy, dyed in the wool of fix-it-yourself by my father?

Even my mechanic puzzled at the refills.  Since I was taking the car in that day for a steering belt replacement anyway,  I figured they could switch the wiper blades while they were at it--save me the time and trouble.  "No problem," Ron said when I mentioned it.  "We'll take care of it."  But later he balked.  "Those wipers," he said:  "we usually just replace the whole thing."  He didn't seem to know what to do with the refills.  But I did.

One fit perfectly; the other needed a few pinches of a needle-nosed pliers, and voila.  You should've seen my smile when I spritzed the window and turned them on:  perfection!  Clean as a whistle and good as new.  I could've watched them all day, swiping smoothly back and forth.

We did it I thought.  I knew that if my father was watching, I'd made him proud.  I felt proud for us both.  Resourceful.  Triumphant.

"Thanks, Dad," I said as I left the car.  "You taught me well."


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